My fortnightly campaign of Lost Mine of Phandelver continued for my Friday group last week. We took up the adventure with the group resting in a room with a number of sarcophaguses – and not checking the nearby door which actually led to a prison where a couple of Redbrand Ruffians were standing guard, having heard the fight the group had had with the skeletons last session.
Which meant that the group was slightly surprised to discover themselves suddenly being attacked by two Ruffians, but not quite as surprised as the Ruffians as the group – which was fairly down on hit points and resources – managed to completely overwhelm them. Numbers tell their own story.
This was also the week I started using miniatures again with my D&D campaigns. I’d already gathered the minis for the D&D Encounters session, and along the way I decided that getting the minis for Lost Mine would also be a good idea, especially as I’m running two groups through it. From now on, minis are likely to be a big part of combats – mainly because my players really like being able to see where everything is. And they look great. Though I’ll likely still run combat without minis when appropriate.
The group were careful to capture one of the ruffians, whom they then questioned closely about the complex and how many more ruffians there were. They also were able to free the prisoners – a mother and her two children – who were going to be sold into slavery by the Redbrands. This offended Greg’s cleric of Tymora mightily, and so he slew the ruffian – don’t mention slavery to a Chaotic Good character! (Especially one who occasionally forgets he’s not playing evil…)
At the urging of the family, the group escorted them back to town, avoiding the ruffians on the way back. Once there, the family were comforted by the staff and the villagers, and the party reported back to Sildar that the leader of the Redbrands was his missing contact, Iarno. Sildar was not pleased by the news, and offered the group a reward to get rid of the Redbrands; he particularly wanted the wizard captured, but just stopping the Redbrands would be appreciated.
Upon returning to the hideout, the group discovered a group of Redbrands particularly unhappy to still be there: their leader had fled and most of their companions had been killed. Why were they still there, then? The reason was because the Black Spider had sent some bugbears to keep an eye on them, and the bugbears would be very unhappy with the Redbrands if they fled. So, the Redbrands stayed in their quarters, gambling and drinking and waiting for the adventurers to come and kill them. They were almost pleased when the group opened the door and attacked, but not really!
Most of the Redbrands attempted to fight the adventurers – fairly ineffectively – but the last one ran out the other exit and alerted the bugbears. He then took off for good, never to be a Redbrand again. The bugbears were much less effective than I’d guessed, and good spell-casting and combat felled them quickly. With that fight, the Redbrand lair was finally cleared and the party could start looking for more answers as to where Cragmaw Castle was.
Sildar suggested that walking up and down the Triboar Trail might see them attacked by goblins who they could interrogate to learn where the castle was; the group decided to go on a quest for Halia, the local cleric of Tymora, which would take them down the Triboar Trail. Synergy!
The problem this plan had was that the goblins weren’t being busy on the trail when the party were travelling up it. (My wandering monsters rolls meant an uninterrupted journey).
However, the quest they were on for the cleric was going much better: they found the banshee, handed her the jewelled comb they’d been given, and she said she’d answer one question. So, of course, they asked her about where the spellbook was that Halia wanted. Not a chance – Greg’s cleric (of Tymora) instead asked where Cragmaw Castle was! So began the schism within the church of Tymora (and might make the Harpers rather unhappy with the group as well). It is perhaps just as well that we’re not going to be continuing a Realms campaign with this group after Lost Mine. (Instead, we’re going to be doing a homebrew Greyhawk campaign).
With the information in hand, the group headed off to Cragmaw Castle, back down the Triboar Trail. As they moved into the forest that concealed the ruined castle from view, they were attacked by wolves (poor animals!), but after dealing with them they discovered the ruined castle and began to explore. At that point, the goblins and hobgoblins in the castle began a determined defense. Using miniatures for this was quite important for visualisation, as we had characters moving between several rooms and with goblins making attacks from behind the characters from unexplored rooms. It was a complicated combat, but the players were really dealing with it well; by the end of it, all the monsters guarding the entryway to the castle were dead, and the way was onwards for further exploration.
That was all we had time for this session. In two weeks, we’ll continue with further exploration of Cragmaw Castle… and see the results of some of the players’ decisions!